Groups gather in Frankfort to rally against House Bill 279


by Gene Kang

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 13 at 3:04 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A rally drew dozens of supporters to the Kentucky state capital Wednesday. They went directly to Governor Steve Beshear’s office and want him to veto a controversial bill dealing with religious rights.

It was a show of solidarity in Frankfort against House Bill 279. But what is HB279 and why is it so important?

"It could open up the door for discrimination in the Commonwealth and subvert civil rights laws that have been passed in Kentucky and our municipalities,” Chris Hartman with the Fairness Campaign said.

The group of 50 included religious congregations, labor unions and civil rights groups -- united against the House Bill which has passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

Supporters call it the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" which, if passed, would allow groups to choose who they do business with and interact with based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

"I believe it's possible that, particularly on a personal level, where someone is renting a room out in their house an elderly couple who perhaps has grandkids over, they may not want to rent the room out to an unmarried couple, heterosexual or a homosexual couple. I would think that they would have an argument in court," Kent Ostrander with the Family Foundation of Kentucky said. 

Critics say it would be a step backwards not only for gay rights but civil rights in general, allowing for legal discrimination disguised as religious freedom. It would impact housing, employment, medical care, adoption and so much more.

"It may not just be LGBT, it could be unmarried status, interracial couples, it could be that women be subservient to men. There's a whole host of issues here," Derek Selznick with ACLU Kentucky said.

They hope HB279 is not signed into law and goes under intense review.

Now that this letter is on Governor Steve Beshear's desk, opponents ask that it's rewritten and revised over the next year.